Assemblog: August 10, 2012

Published on August 10th, 2012 in: Assemblog, Critics/Criticism, Feminism, Media, Movies, The Internets |

kim novak vertigo
Kim Novak in Vertigo, 1958

New this week on Popshifter: Part Four in Paul’s album-by-album articles on THE BAND appraises Cahoots; my (sorta) objective, glowing review of Redd Kross’s first album in 15 years, Researching The Blues; Paul reviews Paul Thorn’s What The Hell Is Goin’ On? using the phrase “smo’ chicken”; Cait provides a brief history of The Tubes in her review of the reissues of their albums Young & Rich and Now; Chelsea wants to like Jezzy & The Belles’ Compasses & Maps but is unable to; and Lisa has mixed feelings about Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers on DVD.

So everyone’s got something to say about Sight & Sound’s poll of The Top 50 Films of All Time. Most of it, at least on Twitter, was a lot of outraged HOW DARE THEY? kind of crap, but I found Melissa Silverstein’s reaction on Indiewire to be the most relevant because it echoes my own concerns, while simultaneously anticipating complaints about numbers: Where are all the women? Says Silverstein:

“Now I know that women directors are outnumbered by male directors by like 95%. No one is saying that the list needs to have all women or even equal women. But the list needs to have more women. I also know that women critics and writers are outnumbered by men. But I also know that women make great films and that women critics and writers and experts react differently to films.”

I think this speaks volumes about why feminism is important in filmmaking and film analysis. Silverstein also provides a follow up with a list of women directors as compiled by readers.

So let’s talk about women film critics. We’re out there, but you wouldn’t know it from sites like Twitch. There are no women on staff, unless this is due to my unfamiliarity with names from other cultures. (Granted, Twitch does have at least one female writer who contributes to the site, so why isn’t Rachel Fox listed on their “About” page? ) Is this because women don’t like genre films? Do I really have to ask this question?

/Film has one, Angie Han. But she’s not an editor and thus couldn’t have prevented this embarrassing display from founder Peter Sciretta, asking Noomi Rapace the following question during an interview about Prometheus:

Yourself and Charlize were some of the few women on the set. Did you sort of form a bond, did you get away from the men and have sort of girlie chats in the corner over coffee and get away from it all?

Note that Sciretta did not ask Ms. Theron a similar question in his interview with her, but that certainly doesn’t excuse it.

There are several film and pop culture blogs with women as editors and contributors (Sarah Zupko is the founder, editor and publisher at PopMatters, for example), including Film Junk, Film School Rejects, Flick Filosopher, The Hairpin, The Mary Sue, Pajiba, Paracinema, Videogum, and Melissa Silversten’s Women in Hollywood blog on Indiewire.

I wish, however, that there were more film news blogs other than The Hollywood Reporter that aren’t connected to Nikke Finke and that don’t include so much celebrity gossip.

Since I apparently can’t get enough of criticizing criticism these days, here’s an article from Film School Rejects on why Rotten Tomatoes is bad for criticism. There are good points made here, although I don’t use RT or Metacritic to gauge whether or not I’ll see a film (in fact, I don’t visit those sites at all). However, does the general public use these sites to determine that? This brings up the thorny question of the purpose of criticism, but I’ve talked about that enough lately, so I’ll spare you. I must also note that I detest grades and scores (and we don’t use them here at Popshifter). Isn’t granting a grade or score to something (which Film School Rejects and many other sites do) just as invaluable as the Fresh/Rotten dichotomy?

I know I’ve ragged on Twitch in this post (and other places), but I still value their articles and reviews. Charlie Hobbs’ recent review of The Bunny Game on DVD highlights why. In the opening, he talks about criticism, saying, “I like to think that I can be dispassionate about films which may succeed on their own terms, but which do not necessarily inspire a positive reaction from my own gut.”

This is a big part of what IS valuable about criticism. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean other people won’t. The ability to gauge the quality of something based on your personal preferences as well as your personal dislikes is still subjective, but it’s far more valuable and worthy than snark (there’s that word again). Hobbs reviews a lot of horror and exploitation films so it’s not as if he doesn’t have a strong stomach for these genres, either.

Unreality Mag has compiled a list of Five Movies I Didn’t Love Until The Second Viewing. Says write David R.: “While I tend to think that a movie should give you everything you need to enjoy it on the first viewing, it’s hard to deny that with some great movies a rewatch is simply necessary. In fact, the more I get into the medium, the more I find that my second viewing of a good movie is often better than the first.”

At the risk of sounding super pretentious, when I was a film student at UCSB in the late ’80s/early ’90s, we were required (or at least strongly advised) to watch all films included in our class syllabus twice. Thus all films (with exceptions for those that were only available on a very limited basis) were screened twice during the course of a quarter.

I realized critics don’t always have that luxury (if ever), but if a critic or writer did attend film school, I think they should watch all movies with this in mind. You might not get to watch this twice before you write about it, so you better pay attention. David R. also mentions “the kind of movies that won’t necessarily play well to an inactive audience.” Naturally, some fool has to take this as a defense of The Dark Knight Rises and get all annoyed (really, these people! UGH.) but hey, while we’re on the subject . . . I do think a lot of critics didn’t pay attention in that movie. Oh, there. I said it. Another commenter makes a well-argued and completely valid defense of M. Night Shyamalan! Seriously, it’s good; you should read it.

Less Lee Moore, Managing Editor

One Response to “Assemblog: August 10, 2012”

  1. Lisa Anderson:
    August 10th, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I’m glad to hear that someone was out there defending Shyamalan! It’s not that he’s above criticism, or that there aren’t valid criticisms to be made; but I think he gets a bad rap, and it makes me cringe. I haven’t seen The Event (too bloody) or his Avatar (whitewash!), but I enjoyed Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and the Village. And I love Lady In The Water beyond words.

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